CityJet (WX, Dublin Int'l) and Air Nostrum (YW, Valencia Manises) have announced plans to integrate their respective fleets and crew as part of a new cooperation agreement which, subject to regulatory approval, would create Europe's largest regional airline.

In a joint press conference held during the 2018 Farnborough Air Show, the Irish and Spanish carriers said they had signed a Heads of Terms/Letter of Intent over the creation of a new umbrella holding company which will own both carriers. The deal's parameters were not revealed and are subject to European Commission (EC) scrutiny.

CityJet and Air Nostrum will leverage their combined fleets to win a greater share of the ACMI market where both have a significant presence.

“By coming together, we believe we will be in a position to respond to the specific needs of customer airlines through our flexibility in the provision of safe, dependable and quality assured operations," Pat Byrne, CEO of CityJet said. "Our respective proven capacity and asset management expertise in acquiring aircraft for new wet lease contracts is also a significant added benefit we can provide to our airline customers.”

Air Nostrum employs 1,450 people and operates a fleet of five ATR72-600s, twenty-seven CRJ-1000s, seven CRJ-200s, and five CRJ-900s for a variety of clients that include Iberia, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Lufthansa, Croatia Airlines, and Binter Canarias. It is recalled that Air Nostrum's parent firm, ILAI (Inversiones Líneas Aéreas Internacionales), is already in the process of establishing an Irish carrier, Hibernian Airlines, which will cater specifically to the European ACMI market. ILAI also has equity stakes in Amaszonas Paraguay (soon to be renamed), Flyest in Argentina, and Medavia in Malta.

For its part, CityJet employs 1,250 staff and operates its own scheduled passenger services alongside ACMI flights for and on behalf of SAS, Air France, and Brussels Airlines. Its fleet entails thirteen ARJ-85s, thirty CRJ-900s, and seven SSJ 100/95Bs.